Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Please adjust your dial accordingly

... Flower Scout has shifted its position in the internet universe. You can find me now, dressed a little nicer for work, at www.flower-scout.com.

Please let me know what you think!

lotsa love,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Araucana Blue

My more finicky ladies finally started laying last week. Look at this perfect egg! If only I could put eggs in my flower arrangements... no, that's gross. But they do look really lovely on my kitchen table.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Little Flower Skool

Last week I drove out to Esperance, NY, to the end of the world... ahem, to World's End Farm. And I did a bit of schlepping buckets and a bit of hauling wine, and a ton of talking to fascinating ladies from all over the world about flowers and flowerbiznass.

I was lucky to be asked to assist; I probably couldn't have afforded this workshop otherwise, though I think I should make a Floral Education line in my budget, going forward. The whole thing gave me a  hit of culture shock, in fact, that I'm still recovering from: that flowers could have photo shoots, with silks and fruits (why this hadn't occurred to me, given some of my favorite instagrams, I don't know), that anyone's wedding budget could include the kind of money for fleurs that our class examples did, that eating cheese in a field at sunset could make me so happy, that puppies exist, that anywhere in the world there could be the wall of flowers that had suddenly erupted here, or that any two people could know the names of so many kinds of roses.

The data bank that is Nicolette + Sarah is a rich trove, and it has leather fringe and smells like roses (like a particularly beautiful and strangely-named variety) and is super highly efficient. Supplies are organized and ample. Discussions are constructed but loose. Arrangements are like a choreographed dance, or as Nicolette says, like "a series of connected moments."

There was so much photographing, so many serious thinking faces. I tried to be a sponge. And tonight, as I make arrangements and corsages and boutonnieres for a last-days-of-summer wedding tomorrow, I can feel some of what I absorbed working its magic. But I can also respect the deft hands & eyes & floral decision-making skills of N + S as I watch myself fumble.

Practice, practice, practice.

 I hope I see all these new friends again soon.

Monday, September 8, 2014


This is going to be a really good week. Look how it started:

In case it's not apparent to you, this is a fake wedding. A Scandinavian-folk-geometry inspired unreal wedding. Look for real professional photos to emerge in the next month or so. Lessons learned: Collaboration is way more fun than solo work; Always measure your tables before you plan the layout; But be flexible; Proximity to coffee and sandwiches and friends who are just chilling is incredibly helpful while working; I need a tool belt.

Monday, September 1, 2014


I live in a good city, where things like this happen.

 image from the luxlazarus instagram

And where I can contribute to them, like this:

(and by dancing)

And where my best friend gets out in his weirdness and plays the most beautiful set ever, 
with my most unique flower crown to date perched atop his head.
photo courtesy ECSTATIC AGE

 ...just happy to be a party of it all. 
Thanks to everybody who organized and everybody who came out!
And thanks to Patrick for this sweet photo of me photographing him, 
and thanks be for this radioactive-colored celosia:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Well that was good.

If you missed the Fort Orange flower crown workshop, well then you missed out. I'm sorry, but it was really really nice. At the end of the night, I drove away literally thanking the Universe out loud. I was very hopped up on happy. Here are some pics. Some of them are blurry, because when you're having a good time it's hard to care about photos.

silly + lovely = slovely. 
look at those gorgeous jawlines.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Upcoming // Incoming

I haven't mentioned here yet that I'll be teaching a flower crown-making workshop at my friend's shop next Thursday. As of right now, there are two spots left!

Fort Orange General Store, a haven in this pretty little city of Albany, has been so refreshing to those of us who like nice stuff and want to support small businesses. I'm always excited to work with Caroline, whose eye is impeccable and whose manner is just super, super warm. This is going to be a really nice night. (With wine and snacks and hanging-out to boot.)

Flower crowns have been a fun thing to make. They are silly; they're completely unnecessary. They're vaguely immature and make 30-year-olds look like they should be hula-hooping at a festival in a belly T. Or like we should be driving a painted horse-drawn caravan across the Scottish countryside in 1967. Or straight ripping up a dining room in the Czech Republic.

But I'm kind of cool with all of those things, and moreover I like to do detailed work with my hands. I like to make something that I can hold up to the light, over and over, to evaluate. I like to get lost in making, in the Csikszentmihalyi way, and wake up with a flower crown on my head.

SO COME ON DOWN to FOGS and get your Flow on, if you feel like it. The class will fill, but we'll host more in the future. Let me know what you'd like to learn!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Road trips are a break from lots of things: work, one's own bed, food options that aren't packaged in plasticky foil, comfortable and controllable air temperatures, alone time, distractions, any other pairs of pants besides the most comfortable pair of pants (leopard print leggings are pants) . . .  There's a lot of sitting still while moving very fast, of course, and a lot of dizzy head rush when you finally emerge from the car, blinking, into the white light of an empty town. Or a miraculous vegetable stand in the middle of the New Brunswick wildness. Or the most perfect rock on a perfect beach in Maine. You get to be quiet with a dear friend, staring forward together. To see how your needs for water, caffeine, protein, drugs of various sorts, and pee breaks line up. (They always line up.)

I didn't take many photos. The break from phone time felt good and hard. I should use my real camera sometimes, but it just doesn't fit in my pocket.

This is the Deer Isle Hotel. When we rolled up it was just falling dark, and we'd driven along the ocean, over a narrow causeway of stones, and down a mile or so of bumpy dirt path to get there. We were greeted by the soft-spoken Mainer-accented owner, and he led us down the above path to the sounds of "I Know You Rider," which is one of my FAVORITE Grateful Dead songs. I was gripping my friend Sarah's arm, like "yay yay yay yay yay," in many hyperactive happiness squeezes, when I realized that I knew this singer, from back home! The world shrinks every day. 

The hostel is off the grid, powered by solar that cuts off sharply around 10:30, and the proprietors grow all of their food for the entire year in the garden here. They have no refrigeration, opting instead to eat fresh, ferment, and store root crops in sand. We drank the best coffee, roasted on the island, and slept the best sleep, waking early with the sun. I could go on: composting toilet, hand-forged iron hinges and handles, the happiest chickens I've ever seen, hand-drawn maps of where to go swimming! If you can go there, you should. I was reminded of all the lovely places I've lived and the committed, beautiful, ethically perseverant people I've known. Inspiration's like an energy seed.

Here's Sarah, being cute as a button.

Look at these silly hippie-eared guys.

My favorite band in the world was advertised at the local food co-op, which made me happy and so so sad, since I'd be back home precisely at the time they went on stage.

The real end-goal of the trip, and something I definitely did not photograph enough, was to be in place in Nova Scotia for the wedding of one of my life's best friends. Kira and I shared everything when we were in school. We would go shopping together and buy the same sweater - not two of the same sweater; we'd pool our money and buy ONE sweater - because we could just steal it from one another whenever we wanted. We slept in each other's beds. We went running, ate meals, made plans for weekends together. It was often ridiculous. And then, after school, we spent a long season farming together in the Santa Cruz mountains. She's like a sister to me, and she is just the damn best. 

And incredibly organized. Kira and Jonah's friends had lists when we arrived, work was delegated, things were getting done. Actually things had been very much gotten done, and so we were free to sit around a fire and drink local beer, which was pretty beautiful after 11 hours in the car.

The flowers for the tables had already been arranged, incredibly well, by Jonah's uncle. But it fell to me to make the bridal bouquet. And there were no ingredients. I mean, there we were, on a river bank near the sea in Nova Scotia in early August. There were millions of ingredients, everywhere. But I had to go gather them from the world. Tansy, clover, peony leaf, ferns, blueberries (actually blue blueberries, which were a bit risky ((stains? eek)), Queen Anne's lace, of course, roses, flowering vetch, tiny apples, and some things I stole from the already-made bouquets, like a perfect white nigella and a fading pink-grey cosmos.

It's a crazy-looking bouquet, wild and a little antique like Kira herself. I am really, really proud of it, but I think the feeling is complicated and inflated by lots of other important feelings I'm still figuring out. It's hard to live far from the people you love most. 

 Pay no attention to the skeptical Kira face. Look at this bouquet.
That's probably all I can say about that without being quite weepy. Our way home was long, but then we did this:

And then I got home and my chickens had finally done this:

And then I saw this: 

 Indeed indeed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dog Days

Pup + sea of buckwheat

Fern is a puppy. All she wants to do is bite your hands. She'll shred a piece of kale, if you throw it at her, but then she wants to bite your hands again. 

And you want to let her. Because it's summer, and you're sitting in the grass, and the wind is blowing through what's pretty much a forest of zinnias and cosmos, and it just keeps raining every.damn.day, and this puppy is full of life and attack and excitement.

Fern is my friend Sarah's pup, and lives her ridiculously chill life at Farmhand Flowers, in Germantown, where I spent Monday afternoon (with my other friend Sarah), getting bit and walking through a jungle of summer weeds and sitting talking flowerwork and drinking lemonade and coffee AT THE SAME TIME.

Forgive my love of the and and and sentence construction.

 Sarah's house, with Fern + other Sarah's shoulder in the foreground.

Farmhand Flowers resides on a multi-use 60 acre parcel, home to lots of projects (medicinal, maple, visual, heart) and the ghosts of parties past; you can feel 'em all there.

Field trips are exciting; new friends are the best. In the meantime, my garden begins pumping its little heart too, screaming out the nigella above (also called love-in-a-mist) and the requisite zinnias, cosmos, ageratum, gomphrena, sunflowers, larkspur (damn fine larkspur), etc etc etc etc ad infinitum.

I realize things I could have done differently. Such is life. I see places where nature is tricking me, too - I look through the thick-branching cosmos to find a massive hole that's conduit to perhaps entire families of groundhogs, trafficking as they do not in flowers but in my garden-neighbors' brassicas, peas, herbs, etc.

 Pardon my headphone cord.

So I stuffed some cardboard and straw in that mother and let's see what they do about that. 

Visiting Sarah made me so grateful for a garden and a path and the excitement I feel about this work. It made me even more appreciative of this short season, the opportunity to sow a second succession of things, and the sticking-with-it mentality you have to have if you want to do anything, namely farm. 


The next goal, beyond planting again, is to get some flowers into the hands of some people. I've been gifting lots of bouquets lately, feeling flower-rich, and I have some weddings on the horizon, but if you're in Troy and in the mood, hit me up for a little tabletop-enhancer or romance-catalyst. I got you. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Important Ladies

Sometimes my appreciation of certain people is like a deep deep string inside me, like a grounding note that doesn't get struck very often. It makes my eyelashes vibrate when it does.

This interview with Sarah Ryhanen, my friend and idol, and Erin Benzakein, who's doing all kinds of good things for people like me, just made my eyelashes straight up shake.

obvious or subversive?

Sarah says, "We all know this…our job is to work in both obvious and subversive ways to spread these ideas around so that people start placing paying more attention to flowers and start seeking out local stems. Everyone should have flowers in their homes everyday. Flowers need to come out of the ‘special occasion’ closet. Flowers make people feel good. This is what it is to be human, to admire beauty, to indulge in the unnecessary. Plus, we’ve got to plant more flowers to save the bees. That’s another discussion for another day."

I'll take all the discussions, please.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baby's Breath and Bleeding Fingers

I met Lauren this winter, when she interviewed me for this sweet story on the All Over Albany blog. We liked each other a lot, right away - I was a mess, in the middle of moving out of my lovely old studio, and I'd set up a false tableau of flowers as though my apartment was consistently full of blooms, when in fact absolutely everything the camera didn't reach was dust bunnies and boxes.

And Lauren was really kind and enthusiastic, allowing the interview to be super-loose. I didn't know what I was selling (I still don't?) or how, and I basically wanted to talk about the evolution and interest behind Flower Scout without committing myself to being any one kind of business. TERROR OF COMMITMENT.

. . . but that's for another post.

So when she asked if I'd help with her upcoming wedding, I was really pleased, in a pay-it-forwardy way. She was so organized - the perfect client - with a list of what was needed and printed photos for inspiration, but an attitude of general acceptance and flexibility. A kind of, "Here's what I love, but I love what you do; let's do this together." Which is perfect for me.

So last Friday she got married to George, who was my CSA member last summer and also so on top of everything on Friday morning, at Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont. It was a mindblowingly gorgeous day, but hot. Really hot. Flower-danger-hot.

The peonies I'd harvested and tucked in a fridge two weeks ago looked really good. But when you blew on them, or even looked at them, they shed their petals in a big dramatic heap. The blueberry branches I frantically harvested the day before the wedding were tough, but politely expressing their discomfort. And the hydrangeas, after a minute, were like NO f*cking way.

Part of Lauren's vision incorporated lots and lots of baby's breath, or gypsophilia. Which I don't grow and can't scavenge, no matter how much I thought about it, trying to approximate its fluffiness with wilder things. So I bought a ton from a distributor in Albany, which meant that it traveled a fairly great distance. Sometimes these things happen. And then, at the very last minute, a local farmer sold me something he didn't know the name of, which turned out to be a beautiful larger-flowered version of gypsophilia. !!! The universe points the way.

I don't have many photos of the set-up, so I'll share more when the professionals roll in. But suffice it to say that it took me a long time to fill these twelve hefty boxes with baby's breath - like hours - and that I learned something from that. And suffice it ALSO to say that I cut my fingers FOUR TIMES while doing so. Scissors, knife, wooden box: many things are sharp.

After the first slice, when I sheepishly asked the ladies at the farm store for a band-aid and they scowlingly shoved a first aid kit at me, I didn't dare ask again. So as I finished, with the wind blowing the tablecloths wildly and the sun threatening the hydrangeas and the clock ticking down on this beautiful wedding, I rotated between carrying boxes full of flowers, sucking my bleeding fingers, sweeping up fallen petals, worrying the peonies meant for the cake, and sucking my fingers again. When it was all over I crawled into bed like a baby. But first I made a list of what I'd learned. A very valuable list!

Thank you, thank you, Lauren & George!

photo stolen from their too-cute facebook

 sayonara peony season. until next year.